Obvious but False

Ask the typical college student, What’s love? That’s a no-brainer—love is a romantic feeling, right? And what’s the purpose of sex? Pleasure, of course. What else could it be? In his new book Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students, University of Texas professor J. Budziszewski tells students that both of these “obvious” answers are dead wrong. Take the idea that love is a feeling. If that were really true, then how could people getting married promise to love each other until they are parted by death? Feelings come and go; you can’t promise a feeling. What you can promise is a commitment of the will to the good of the other person. And that’s what love is. Or take that other “obvious” but wrong answer that the purpose of sex is pleasure. “False,” says Budziszewski. Of course, sex is pleasurable, but that doesn’t make pleasure its purpose. The exercise of every natural power is pleasurable. Eating is pleasurable; taking a deep breath is pleasurable; flexing a muscle is pleasurable. Is the purpose of all those things also pleasure? Think what that would imply. If the purpose of eating was pleasure, then if it gave you more pleasure to eat, purge, and eat some more, you ought to do it. The reason you shouldn’t is that the purpose of eating isn’t pleasure, but nutrition. In the same way, says Budziszewski, the purpose of our sexual powers isn’t pleasure, but procreation—in other words, making families. In a snappy dialogue format, Budziszewski takes up these and lots of similar questions. The first part of the book is what he calls “girl and guy stuff.” What are “the moves” of courtship, and why are they so hard to figure out? Is “missionary dating” a good idea or a bad one? Does it matter whom you live with? Why do so many people seem to be afraid of growing up? And here’s an explosive one: I got my girlfriend pregnant—what now? My favorite question is why “sowing your wild oats” never works out the way it’s supposed to. Sexuality, he says, is like duct tape. The first time you use it, it sticks you to whomever it touches. But just like that duct tape, if you rip it off and then touch it to someone else, it isn’t as sticky as it was before. So what happens when you pull it loose from one partner after another? Budziszewski explains: You just don’t stick anymore, your sexual partners seem like strangers, and you stop feeling anything. I like that answer. Not only is it thoroughly biblical, but it honors the fact of our natural design—the way we are actually made to fit the way the world really is. If you want to learn more about how to explain the creational plan for love and courtship to the young people in your life, check out this wonderful new book Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students. During the next few days, Mark Earley and I will be talking more about it. Don’t forget: If we go against the way God designed us to live, it is like cutting across the grain of the universe, and we’re asking for trouble. All we have to do to live right is to get with the plan—His plan, that is.


Chuck Colson


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